Thursday, August 22, 2013

S4E20: The Running of the Drunken Bulls

High atop the Ritz Carlton skyscraper in Los Angeles, the six remaining Home Cooks cheer as a helicopter carrying the three judges flies in and touches down on the landing pad. “It looks like we are in a movie!” says Luca. They aren’t in a movie. However, I am starting to think that we all are just characters in one of Luca’s dreams. Soon he will wake up in the pantry of a small trattoria owned and run by his family in Ravello, Italy, and we will all fade away to nothingness as he begins kneading the dough for the day, while trying to recapture glimpses of the amazing dream he just had where he was in America on a famous cooking show and could speak English.

Only five of the cheftestants are actually on the landing pad. Krissi is shivering in the stairwell, terrified of heights. “I’m going to pass out up here, and I’m probably going to die,” she tells us. We’re all going to die, Krissi, just as soon as the sun begins to rise over the Ravello countryside. “MasterChef waits for nobody,” says a cold, heartless Gordon Ramsay, and they continue on without her.

It’s #RestaurantTakeover day, and they’ll be cooking at WP 24, a Wolfgang Puck fine-dining restaurant that cooks modern Chinese cuisine. Natasha (red) and Bri (blue) are the captains and pick their teams. Natasha picks first saying, “I need a co-captain, and Jessie puts out beautiful plates and has finesse” and floated down to this rooftop from heaven above on the wings of angels after being carefully sculpted by God himself, “so I pick Jessie.”

Bri picks James first, because duh. Natasha picks Luca, because also duh. And finally Bri is stuck with Krissi, loser of every Team Challenge in the competition so far…except for, if I remember correctly, the one she got to sit out. What an anchor, Krissi is! If she did fall off the roof, she’d manage to bring two or three others down with her.

The Home Cooks are given a quick course in how to make the four dishes they’ll be serving at WP 24: Steamed Scallop Shrimp Sui Mai, Crisp Lettuce Cups with Tempura Sweet Maine Lobster, Singapore-Style Chili Prawns, and Stir Fried Wagu Beef with a Chili Garlic and Sweet Bean Sauce. WP 24 head chef Kiefer Sutherland runs the demonstration and is a tornado of wok activity, though he brags about how slowly he’s actually moving.

Krissi tells us, “I gotta cook 4-star Chinese food. I hate Asian food” and Asians and black people and heights and hipsters and nature and love and puppies.

“This is a nightmare scenario,” says James. “I’ve got a vegetarian and a girl who won’t eat Asian food. How the hell am I supposed to prepare modern Asian cuisine with those two?” You’re not. This is a certain loss for the Blue Team. Save your energy for the Dreaded Pressure Test, James. We can’t afford to lose you and your comic stylings.

WP 24, coming this fall on Fox, opens for business, and every customer/extra arrives and sits down at once, which is weird. The Blue Team starts off great on apps, so they’ll absolutely be losing this challenge. Meanwhile on the Red Team, Luca is struggling with the steamer. “This supposed to be put the dumplings in the steamer, the steamer cooks them for you,” Luca says. “I have no idea what I’m doing.” One of the customers gets a raw scallop sui mai from Luca, and I’m grateful for the subtitles, because now I know how to spell sui mai. Gordon inspects Luca’s steamer to discover that he put cold water in that hasn’t come up to temperature. Meanwhile in rural Italy, a young chef stirs restlessly in his sleep, tossing and turning between sacks of onions and potatoes.

They move on to entrees, and Krissi immediately begins to plummet. “Krissi is handling that wok with the finesse of 27 drunk bulls in a very, very small China shop,” says James. There you go, James! #27drunkbulls #comedysuperstar #comingformyjob #idothisforfree #doyouknowanyonehiring #goodwithrecaps and #hashtags.

Some of the diners/extras begin to complain that they haven’t gotten their food, completely oblivious to the fact that they all sat down at the same fucking time. The amount of anger they feel at their lack of food rivals only their joy at receiving a couple seconds of camera time on national television in potency.

Graham steps in to help Krissi, and at this point we haven’t heard from the Red Team in minutes, so it’s officially over. Can we call it now? Let’s move on to the Dreaded Pressure Test, please.

Joe checks in on the diners/extras. “I’ve eaten at a bunch of different high-quality Asian restaurants around the country,” says a nebbish man eating James’s wagu beef. “And this one, by far, right up there.” Whatever that means. How can something be right up there by far? This was your opportunity to show the world your talents, nebbish man eating beef, and YOU BLEW IT. Let’s hope your community theatre’s performance of Pippen next week goes better than that just did.

Service ends, and we get to hear that the Red Team wins. Wait. No we don’t. Apparently, the judges want to sleep on it. … Back in the MasterChef Kitchen, the judges break the news. The Red Team wins! Holy shit! They celebrate with a group hug, making a Luca sandwich between slices of Natasha and Jessie. This dream just took a turn for the sexy.

It’s time for the Dreaded Pressure Test, and this time each losing Home Cook will have to participate. They’ll have to make a plate of fried calamari with flavorful marinara sauce. Bri has had calamari in her non-vegetarian days, James loves it, and Krissi grew up on it.

They have 45 minutes and begin cooking. As someone noted on Twitter (I can’t remember who and can’t be bothered to look), James puts his hair back while Bri and Krissi do not. Why don’t the judges comment on this? That should be a free pass up to the balcony for James. I’m actively rooting for James in this competition. And that has nothing (everything) to do with him following me on Twitter (@joellugar).

The Home Cooks begin prep, and Krissi looks at one of her squid like she’s wondering what a squid has to do with calamari. Aren’t they ring-shaped? James is cleaning his squid like a pro, and Bri seems to be handling hers alright, as well. The chefs in the balcony watch Krissi mishandle her squid with amazement. She responds by lobbing f-bombs at them along with a spoonful of marinara. #sauceflinger

Gordon asks Bri if she’s tasting everything, and she says she’s tasting the flour before she seasons it. I guess she wants to make sure that it’s actually flour instead of something like cream of tartar. At home, Bime nods knowingly.

“They’re scared of me. That’s why they want me to leave,” says a delusional Krissi. “I’ve dominated every Pressure Test.” Graham asks Luca if he’s scared. He says he isn’t, though it probably isn’t fair to ask him while he’s hypnotized by the pheromones emanating from Jessie and Natasha standing to either side of him. #Lucaboner

Bri squeezes a lemon into her marinara sauce, and her oil is too hot. “They’re screaming,” Bri says about the souls of her tortured calamari. Those calamari will be waiting for her in hell where she’ll get to decide if this modicum of fame was worth eternal damnation.

Tasting time!

Bri goes first. Her rings are thick and overcoated with flour. “You can see that the breading is fried, but the inside is squid tartare,” says Graham. Oh noes! Creamed by tartare! Bri explains to Joe why she put lemon juice in her marinara, and Joe says it’s about the stupidest thing he’s ever heard. A few feet over, Krissi cream of tartars in her pants.

Krissi’s calamari is tasted next. Gordon says it’s spongy. Marinara expert Joe likes her sauce but thinks the batter on her calamari is like funnel cake.

James tells us that he’s worried about his marinara. “I kind of forgot about it, so I’m hoping they don’t notice that. But they will.” They do. He didn’t put olive oil in it. His calamari are perfect, though, so he’ll be fine.

The judges confer. The chefs commiserate. Krissi worries that if she goes home on calamari that she’ll lose her street cred that she had to stab a lot of people to get. Bri says she likes her lemony marinara, and Krissi stabs her.

James is called forward first, and he gets the reprieve. Natasha tells us, “I’m not even religious, but I’m praying to God that Krissi goes home.” But God has his focus solely on Jessie. “I made that,” God brags. “That was allll this guy.”

Gordon, aka God Jr., calls Krissi forward. “You have come so far…” Krissi sniffs as a tear rolls down her cheek. “…but, it’s time…” Another tear falls as she presses her lips together in agonizing fear. “…to take your apron off…” Bri gives a sigh of relief as Krissi removes her flour-speckled apron in disappointment. “…and head on upstairs to the gallery. You are safe.”

This time, Krissi breathes the sigh of relief. She goes upstairs, leaving Bri to feel the sharp blade of the ax for the second time this season.

Bri gives each of the judges a hug and says James is going to win. #TeamJames #followmeontwitter Gordon asks her to give Krissi some advice. “Be nice. Please? Try to be nice?” Don’t listen to her, Krissi. Continue being horrible and belligerent. These recaps need your misguided rage.

Farewell to Bri, once again. I’ll miss your glasses. I’ll miss your bangs. I’ll miss your specious claims of vegetarianism. I’ll miss your interview skills. I’ll miss your battles with Krissi. But most of all, I’ll miss your…bangs. Wait, I said that already? Screw it. I’m doubling down on the bangs.


  1. Hey! Luca isn't from Ravello! He's from Aviano! That's more than 500 miles away! Shame on you, Joel.

    Although I am envisioning him waking up, sobbing over visions of sugarplum fairies and Jessie Lysiak, and being too morose to notice that he's 8 hours away from his house and the owners of that poor trattoria have called la polizia.

    And for that I am eternally grateful.

    1. In his dream, he's from Aviano. In real life, of which we are not participants, he's from Ravello.